Alert from CNET Staff

 Attention forum users:  We want you to try out the new CNET forums platform! Click here to read the details. Thanks! site feedback forum: CNET Installer - Facts, Benefits, Detrements, and Discussion

by: John.Wilkinson August 28, 2011 1:07 PM PDT

Like this

4 people like this thread

Staff pick

CNET Installer - Facts, Benefits, Detrements, and Discussion

by John.Wilkinson Moderator - 8/28/11 1:07 PM

There has been quite a bit of press and controversy regarding July 2011's launch of the CNET 'secure installer,' and as the questions continue I decided to create my own summary for interested parties.

1.) What is the change?
By default, the 'Download Now' link for most on CNET's now downloads a small installer instead of the download you requested. This installer will download and install the desired program after prompting you to install third-party software (usually a toolbar), which is installed unless you specifically uncheck the option. The installer itself does not need installed.

2.) Are all downloads affected by this change?
No. The change only affects Windows downloads, and has not been rolled out to all software that CNET offers. In addition, software from developers who subscribe to a Premium listing package or a Pay-Per-Download program is automatically excluded. Finally, developers can ask that their software be excluded by emailing a request to cnet-installer(at)cbsinteractive[dot]com.

3.) Was a notification of this change sent out?
Yes. There was a notification in the July 26th issue of the newsletter, as well as a public blog post on July 28th.

4.) Can I avoid this CNET installer?
UPDATE: You no longer need to be logged in to use the Direct Download Link. You will see the link underneath the green "Download Now" button for all CNET Installer Enabled products on the site, whether or not you are logged in.

If you are a registered CNET member, you do also have the option to turn off the Installer for the whole site. To do so, login to the site, mouse over your username in the top right corner of the page and click the "My profile" link, then click the "Update my Preferences" link, select the "Off" option and click the "Save Changes" button.

5.) Why was this change made?
CNET states they made the change for the user, to improve security and reliability of downloads. In addition, it provides additional information regarding download experience to CNET, which it and developers can use to improve their products.

6.) Where can I read the latest FAQs from CNET?
The full CNET Installer FAQ is here.

7.) Does the installer honor my opt-out?
Yes. There have been a few reports that third-party software was installed by the CNET installer despite user opt-out, but in those cases it was either third-party software from the developer, not CNET, or unreproducible by myself and/or other users.

8.) Does the installer spy on my computer?
No. The installer only reports basic information specific to the download/installation process. It does not report on other installed software, user activities, et cetera. It is also a stand-alone application; deleting the executable completely removes the installer from the computer.


Disclaimer: Please note that this is not an official FAQ - it was written by myself as a knowledgeable user, and will be updated to correct any errors it may contain. CNET/CBS Interactive is not responsible for its content.

Note: This post was edited by a forum moderator to update info and links on 12/05/2013 at 2:07 PM PT

Forum Icon Legend

  • UnreadUnread
  • ReadRead
  • Locked threadLocked thread
  • ModeratorModerator
  • CNET StaffCNET Staff
  • Samsung StaffSamsung Staff
  • Norton Authorized Support TeamNorton Authorized Support Team
  • AVG StaffAVG Staff
  • avast! Staffavast! Staff
  • Webroot Support TeamWebroot Support Team
  • Acer Customer Experience TeamAcer Customer Experience Team
  • Windows Outreach TeamWindows Outreach Team
  • DISH staffDISH staff
  • Dell StaffDell Staff
  • Intel StaffIntel Staff
  • QuestionQuestion
  • Resolved questionResolved question
  • General discussionGeneral discussion
  • TipTip
  • Alert or warningAlert or warning
  • PraisePraise
  • RantRant

You are e-mailing the following post: Post Subject

Your e-mail address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the e-mail and in case of transmission error. Neither your address nor the recipient's address will be used for any other purpose.

Sorry, there was a problem emailing this post. Please try again.

Submit Email Cancel

Thank you. Sent email to


Thank you. Sent email to


You are reporting the following post: Post Subject

If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

Offensive: Sexually explicit or offensive language

Spam: Advertisements or commercial links

Disruptive posting: Flaming or offending other users

Illegal activities: Promote cracked software, or other illegal content

Sorry, there was a problem submitting your post. Please try again.

Submit Report Cancel

Your message has been submitted and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.


Your message has been submitted and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.


You are posting a reply to: Post Subject

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to the CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to CBS Interactive Site Terms of Use.

You are currently tracking this discussion. Click here to manage your tracked discussions.

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

Sorry, there was a problem submitting your post. Please try again.

Sorry, there was a problem generating the preview. Please try again.

Duplicate posts are not allowed in the forums. Please edit your post and submit again.

Submit Reply Preview Cancel

Thank you, , your post has been submitted and will appear on our site shortly.